Wednesday, October 11, 2006
How did I blow it with our Thai basil plant? Let us count the ways.
Way back in May, when we were poking around a nursery in Vermont, I was beside myself with excitement to find a tiny Thai basil plant sitting in an obscure corner of the greenhouse. We brought it home and I kept it inside until the weather heated up a bit (basil hates the cold), and then Margy potted it and set it outside. All summer I tended to it lovingly, making sure to prune the flowers and to give it enough sun and water. It thrived.
And then I hardly ever used it.
And now it's dying.
And I'm angry with myself.
Don't get me wrong -- it was occasionally put to good use, lending its herbal, aniselike perfume to the occasional stir-fry or curry. But I didn't make enough Thai or Thai-inspired dishes to properly exploit the exotic little bush growing in our back yard.
Tonight is the perfect example. I made a Thai-style squid stir-fry, fragrant with shallots and garlic and fish sauce and spicy with hot peppers, and then I garnished it with cilantro and Margy and I sat down to dinner. All day I was thinking Lotsa basil, lotsa basil, but somehow that crucial bit of information slipped my mind while I was laying out ingredients. Three bites into our meal, I shot out of my chair: "Dammit!" I scared the heck out of Margy, who for some reason doesn't appreciate my frantic non-sequitur exclamations. I clued her in to why I was suddenly upset.
It was pouring out, and we had already started eating. I sat back down.
Thirty seconds later I grabbed the kitchen scissors, stepped into my shoes, and went outside to clip some basil, which I then hastily snipped over our plates. I don't have many chances left, and it's going to be a long Thai-basil-less winter. I'm happy to say this last-minute herb application did indeed make all the difference. If only I had thought of it sooner. And more often.